Batman games are normally not excellent. There. We got that out of the way without needing to go through a roll call of video game misfits more freakish and twisted than Batman’s rogues’ gallery itself. Licensed properties from all sort of media have suffered when brought to computer game type, however few as much as Batman. That said, Ubi Soft’s Batman: Vengeance is an anomaly. Some will say that it’s the best Batman game yet, while others will qualify it as at least neck-in-neck with a few of the Batman NES and Genesis titles. In any case you see it, it’s the best Batman video game in years, and that’s exactly what matters now.

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There are various gameplay modes in Batman: Vengeance, but the majority of the time you control Batman from a third-person viewpoint. You can run, jump, and move through 3D polygonal environments as you have in lots of other video games, but that’s simply the start. You can place Batman flat against a wall in order to sneak up on an opponent or peak around a corner, as in Activision’s Tenchu: Stealth Assassins. Or you can move into a first-person perspective to throw batarangs at opponents or fire a grappling hook to get to areas higher or further away from you. Other modes have you owning the batmobile through the streets of Gotham City, flying the batplane above them, or diving below tall buildings in order to capture falling civilians prior to rappelling to security.

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Picking a battle with a punk will shift the action into a 2D/3D fighting mode where combat consists of punches and kicks, powered-up mixes of those two, and supermoves that you discover as you advance. The fighting is simple and uncomplicated, however it’s done well enough to be amusing and just becomes frustrating when numerous onlookers sucker punch you from behind. A common encounter with foes consists of entering a room where a few criminals are set down on catwalks. You throw batarangs at them to knock the machine guns out of their hands then engage them in hand-to-hand fight, handcuffing them once they’re down so they don’t get back up to combat you again. Include platform jumping, puzzle resolving, employer encounters, and some of the other previously mentioned modes to the mix, and you have actually got Batman: Vengeance.

 

The range found in Batman: Vengeance is quickly the video game’s best function. Unlike Recognition’s Batman & Robin (which also had a diverse choice of modes), though, most of the modes come off passably or well. Of course, because the video game is neither a dedicated battling video game nor a first-person shooter, those features do not compare with games that only include those components, but they finish the job nevertheless.

 

Batman: Vengeance’s drawbacks are its electronic camera, its fluctuating trouble level, and its final couple of phases. At first, the game’s video camera isn’t really much of a problem. When playing in the third-person perspective, the electronic camera follows you loosely, catching up quickly if you make an unexpected turn. You can center the cam behind you with a touch of the R1 button, and Batman’s body goes clear if he remains in the way of your frontal view. As you get further into the game and should platform jump and dodge enemy fire, it becomes apparent that having the video camera constantly center on Batman, save for having the ability to rotate it by hand as in Eidos’ Soul Reaver, would work better. Additionally, Batman is terrific at running and moving, but not at precise stops and motions. He is also, for some reason, tough to keep facing forward throughout glides. Both of these things make the platform leaping sections of the later levels more difficult than they must be. In fact, while the trouble level is exceptionally forgiving throughout most of the video game, it ends up being so frustratingly tough towards completion that you’ll contemplate breaking your PlayStation 2, your tv, or both. It’s one thing for a video game to provide a difficulty– it’s another for it to stack the chances against you then present you with video camera and control troubles.

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